Do not to lift ban on GMO food products, farmers tell Government

Farmers have asked the Government not to lift the ban on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food products.

They said GMOs would contaminate their yields and also expressed concern that small-scale farmers will not afford the biotechnology as it requires expensive chemicals in pest control.

Speaking in Nakuru during the World Food Day, farmers' representatives said GMO was not a solution to food insecurity facing the country.

The Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) director Wanjiru Kamau challenged researchers to concentrate on finding suitable high-breed crop varieties to be grown in various regions.

She, however, observed that the BT maize variety being encouraged by scientists at Kiboko Research Centre would contaminate the current breed as it requires a lot of chemicals to control pests.

The Community Rehabilitation and Environmental Protection Programme director Collins Ochieng said scientists should come up with new technologies that meet the real needs of farmers.

Mr Ochieng said there were health and environmental concerns raised by farmers over introduction of GMOs alleged to be a contributing factor to cause of cancer and other ailments.

"GMO is associated with cancer, kidney failure and infertility. Before the gene is adopted, more investigations is required by the Government to ensure food is safe for consumption," said Ochieng.

He added that GMO will also affect pollination process in crops sice chemicals used in controlling pests kill bees.

Ochieng urged the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation to promote ecological farming by blending scientific knowledge and indigenous farming.

But Secretary to the Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium Joel Ochieng said the current ban on GMOs had negatively affected food security.

Ochieng said debate around GMOs was often characterised by emotive and misleading information about purported dangers.

"There exists an international scientific consensus that the "genetic modification" process itself does not raise any risks over conventional breeding approaches," Ochieng said.

The ban on GMO foods was effected in November 2012, pursuant to a publication that claimed that the maize and Roundup glyphosate could cause tumours.

Deputy President William Ruto said in early August when he opened the annual Bio-Safety Conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi that the Government will lift the ban as consultations on GMOs have been concluded.